A world first? Passive v active isolation platforms test

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#1
Currently testing passive Stacore pneumatic spring v passive Minus K BM-8 mechanical spring v active Kuraka E-Mini 450 lab grade piezo electric sensors, plus Shun Mook Giants Diamond Resonators as a little bonus
A quick resume of my system
Have wrangled a truly expressive and neutral sound, an acoustic and power grid that is quiet, revealing and neutral
Every change I make here is immediately exposed as positive or negative
And my system balance is both full, dense and extended, but w great flow, transparency and imaging
My previous London apartment in hindsight shown now to be harsh and pinched
The only area of impvt I've been looking at is reducing the last % of bass bloat/over ripeness, and maybe look at opening up a bit more potentially by controlling flr borne vibrations
My 18x38/5.5x11.5 roof loft space room is centred within an overall roof span of 35x55/10.5x16.5, new flr fixed on original 1861 Victorian era flr joists
So if there is going to be an area of weakness in my room, it's flexing/floor borne vibns, from my spkrs, from the house below up thru supporting external walls, and from roof structure warping in windy, rainy conditions
So, I can truly say having beaten my demons on room acoustics, power, components synergy, cable choice etc, this is my potential final frontier area of investigation (and maybe drain on financial resources LOL)
So, have acquired the passive mechanical spring Minus K BM-8 which many audiophiles have used successfully under their tts
The newly released passive pneumatic/CLD hybrid Stacore from Poland
The Herzan equivalent lab grade active Kuraka E-Mini 450
And threw in a set of Shun Mook Giants Diamond Resonators resonance management for good measure
Have come to some fascinating conclusions, indeed this area of trialling has been the most interesting comparing I've done in over two decades of this crazy hobby
Descriptions to come, and hopefully full photos next wk after Blue58 joins me for essential second opinions/cool perspective
But I already am certain what works, works best, and also doesn't float my boat
Will post thoughts soon...
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Beverly Hills, CA
#2
I look forward to reading about the results of the comparison tests!
 
Sep 28, 2011
103
5
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#3
I have been in email correspondence with marc, sharing our experiences with active isolation and our thoughts. I shall leave him to reveal the results of his experiments but would like to congratulate him on having found his nirvana.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#4
Thanks Alvin, and Ron
Nirvana is an apt description, this is one of these epiphany moments where you again realise "noise is the enemy" more than ever
I would love to have got more from the Minus K BM-8
It promises a lot w it's spec on isolation down to <1Hz, and it's reasonable cost
Active is 2x costlier than Stacore which itself is 2x costlier than Minus K
Unfortunately the need to preload to its max load capacity meant that I was never able to not have loading material sonic signature present on playback
I tried 3 slabs of differing materials but to no avail
All biased the sound negatively
In addition the need to load the central spring w centre of gravity of component meant I could never QUITE get it right w my assymetric tt (arm pod to one side, motor to another, offset plinth loading), and I had to admit defeat
Good luck to those who promote it, but could never crack its code
So, Minus K out
Shun Mook Giants Diamond Resonators?
Worked a treat in my previous London apartment, but esp under my 18" sq 165 pound hulk of a balanced power transformer bpt. and even my smaller lighter cdp, bringing a real sense of warmth and bass energy to the fore
Here in my more neutral expressive space which has truly shown my previous place to be appalling for sound?
Another miss, but for different reasons
No install issues, Giants just perfect on paper for my bpt
And as in London, warmth and bass energy to spare
But now I'm picking up on a distinct colouration, a lower midband frequency enhancement that imprints on every piece of music
Euphonic colouration, and not what I need or want here
Mooks out too
Next post, Stacore passive v Kuraka active, on both cdp and bpt
This is where things REALLY get interesting
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#5
So onto the Kuraka active and Stacore passive
It so happens that the UK distrib for Minus K, Kuraka and Herzan less than 15 miles from me
Minus K and Kuraka dropped off w me for relaxed ongoing trial, w message that Kuraka up there w Herzan, and in fact more popular in UK lab situations
At the same time, I discover Stacore online as Jarek their main man maintains a friendly informative non hard sell presence on WBF
So, I get a unique chance to a/b the kind of tech that Mike Lavigne and Rockitman have championed for a few years w active Kuraka versus the new kid on the block uber engineered passive Stacore
Straight a/b of lab grade Karaka piezo electric sensors active v fascinating combination in the Stacore of modern day take on Vibraplane-style pneumatics/mass loaded slate (95kg)/constrained layer CLD/RollerBlock style decoupled slate top platform for added lateral isolation/Stacore secret sauce
And in effect a comparison of bulletproof isolation to <1Hz in Kuraka v more broadband orientated approach >150Hz w Stacore
W Minus K and Shun Mooks retired from the field, I had a week w Kuraka active under both cdp and bpt, followed by Stacore from today...
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#7
Marty Marty Marty LOL
And your great recent speakers search thread was even worse!
Nope, I'm going to prolong the torture a while longer
My next post
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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#8

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#9
Mike, you just love an English turn of phrase
So much for us Brits and Yanks being divided by a common language
However, I'm not sure my good friend Ron Resnick ever completely got the English way, even after well over a year in our green and pleasant land
Maybe I was just too tricky for him
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#10
Ok, as requested by Marty, and anyone who's had the willpower to stick w me so far
Last week Kuraka went under the cdp (from its usual place on my Symposium Isis rack, each shelf passively isolated w RollerBlock modules, and together w constrained CLD shelves, an excellent passive isolating system)
Within a couple of bars of music it was immediately apparent how beneficial active Kuraka isolation was (so much so I felt compelled to PM Mike Lavigne immed)
Bass grunge cleaned up, leading to less time smear, decluttering the mids and opening up the treble
Fascinatingly, w less bloat the bass was naturally warmer and more extended but cleaner
Hard to convey how dramatic this was
My system if it has a fault is a tendency to being over warm and "ripe" esp w pwrful 211 monoblocks and full range drivers spkrs
A lot of these issues sorted at a stroke
And even more fascinatingly, when I switched the Kuraka to under the bpt
Go figure!
My supposition is that since my bpt is not overbuilt like some ott audiophile devices, w simply a thin resonant shell and a huge transformer that is mechanically and electrically noisy, calming vibrations to and from it has a greater than expected effect at settling things and allowing a less adulterated flow of power to the whole system
Or I imagined the whole thing
Am able to pick up this unit at 50% off ex demo cost, same as Stacore, and had I not heard the Stacore today, I'd happily have written the cheque
But I did hear the Stacore today
And I'm not buying the Kuraka...
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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London
#11

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,221
190
63
North Shore of Boston
#12
Am able to pick up this unit at 50% off ex demo cost, same as Stacore, and had I not heard the Stacore today, I'd happily have written the cheque
But I did hear the Stacore today
And I'm not buying the Kuraka...
Marc, does that mean you are buying the Stacore? If so, why? Lower price, better performance, or a combination of the two? How do the two platforms perform in your system? And will you be trying these devices under your turntable?
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#14
So, out goes the Kuraka, and in goes the Stacore
Tbh, my expectation bias, based on Mike's and Christian's experience w Herzan, and theoretical disadvantage passive runs with (inability to go sub 3Hz let alone sub 1Hz, and lack of instantaneous response of active piezo electric sensors), meant that despite the quite stunning fit and feel (photos to come) and humungous weight of this thing (65kg+30kg), I was truly expecting it not to match or beat the active Kuraka
So positioned it, placed bpt on top, pumped it up to optimal setting
And first impressions were as expected, not as good
But first impressions not always to be trusted
Anyhow, bass seemed immediately less warm and extended
However 30s in, a weird thing happened
Bass lines and bass playing techniques began emerging, w real meaning
So, somewhat leaner than the Kuraka, but I'd contend a lot more truthful and realistic
This now allowing the mids to breathe more, and critically allow treble in my system at least to soar unfettered
Now I'm really picking up the interplay of bass w lower mids, and transparency from mids into treble
Again a hard one to convey, I'd say a real holistic quality to music, where noise and bloat even more eliminated than w the Kuraka
And now I'm fully getting why Jarek of Stacore was so enthusiastically conveying that for truly successful isoln, it not just enough to do the sub 1Hz thing that active is so good at, but also the broadband thing >150Hz, and this is where the 95kg slate mass loading, constrained CLD tech and Rollerblock decoupled slate platform lateral isoln comes into its own
After a day's solid listening I'm a total convert
And despite active Kuraka being so impressive, passive Stacore just takes its positives and adds a whole set more, despite having a somewhat leaner, more neutral presentation
This experience has been so radical for me, that I'm convinced vibration isolation is worth investing progressively
I've decided to buy the trial Stacore and a second platform, for tt and bpt duties
 
Sep 28, 2011
103
5
18
#15
Interesting. The stacore is broadband at 150hz onwards (is this correct?)and does not isolate below that while the active kuraka is probably effective from below 200hz down to 1hz. My experience of combining the accurion and symposium ultra platform has been a positive but at a much higher cost than the stacore..... symposium doing the heavy lifting from 50hz onwards... I wonder how Mike's experience with the taiko would be as that product mirrors my current implementation of active and passive combination.
Given Marc's description I am inclined to think that the various platforms do have sonic signatures and can be deployed in various systems depends on how one wants to tune overall tonality.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#16
Alvin, I'm not sure why you think the Stacore doesn't isolate below 150Hz
I believe it's good to 5-7Hz, but to some extent tails off here
But it is v strong over 150Hz where active tails off
I'm now totally minded to agree w Jarek that the bare specs are not as critical as the implementation
Symposium plus active would be 2.5x cost of Stacore, and w me wishing to isolate 8 components that would be well beyond what I could afford
I'm amazed how good the Stacore was in the bass where it's poorer specs v active would suggest it shouldn't do so well
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,221
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North Shore of Boston
#17
Marc, thank you for making the effort to compare these alternative solutions and for sharing your impressions with the forum. Could you clarify what it is that you placed on the Stacore? What is a bpt? Did you also do comparisons with your digital player and turntable? I would be most interested in reading your impressions of these devices under your turntable. I am not actually surprised by your findings because I received a number of emails from people during the Vibraplane/Herzan debate thread a year or so ago telling me to stick with my Vibraplane for underneath my suspended turntable. I suspect it depends in part on what one is trying to isolate, what one wants to spend, and as you suggest, the flavor of sonic character one wants to impart.

I also find that my Vibraplanes improve the sound of my mono block amplifiers. I have never tried active isolation in my system, but I did compare a Vibraplane to a Townshend Seismic Sink and preferred the former. For cost and space reasons, I do have five Sinks under the smaller components in my rack and do notice a positive improvement.

Thanks again for your report.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#18
Peter, sorry for the confusion
Bpt=balanced pwr transformer
My Westwick 8kVA unit, UK/Euro equivalent to US Equi=Tech
It's a 18" x 18"/0.5m X 0.5m, 175lb/85kg behemoth
Hard to believe isolation could make a difference
But it does, big time
Have also trialled my more standard size and weight cdp, and a similar upstick
My tt is offline atm, awaiting my cart back from Soundsmith
But 4 years ago I tried the active Accurion i4 under my tt back in London, and a lot of the impvts I heard then I'm hearing now
Hence, I'm confident to extrapolate the platform I buy now will seamlessly optimise my analog rig when it returns
My ongoing dilemma is accommodating/affording further Stacores for my cdp, pre, pre psu, monos, phono and phono psu, plus any future isolation solution for my Zus
The big conclusion I've drawn is not that these things work, but how well they work, and how in my case at least, passive is so superior to active
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,770
450
83
Beverly Hills, CA
#19
Very interesting, Marc. Thank you for these reports! (I am glad you are now a believer in the efficacy of active isolation.)

Did you try your tube pre-amp on any of the isolation platforms?

I just looked at the Stacore website and I do not understand how the pneumatic section works. What, exactly, is the pneumatic section of the Stacore, and how does it work? It is an active pneumatic system that is constantly responding and counteracting vibrations, or does it inflate once and then remain passive thereafter?
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
6,952
302
83
E. England
#20
Some further thoughts on how deep an impression the Stacore has left on me
I've got some rep as a bit of a drummer having played a bit in my time
And I'm always drawn to the sound of drum kit esp snare drum, and ride cymbals
And this platform is sifting out so much bloat from the sound that impact on skin and resonance of shell is really well represented, as is sticking pattern on shank or bell of ride
I can't tell you how much this adds to the sense of realism, and is a treat really worth the entrance ticket
My system was really expressive at a different level today
Bravo Stacore!
 

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